Studying Social Policy and Social Work in Germany
Social work is about supporting people - in everyday life as well as in acute problem situations
An article by Antonia Kelloms. Cooperation from: Oliver Burgard.
That is what it’s about
They look after children and young people in difficult life situations, support people with disabilities, look after elderly people who can no longer manage on their own, work with addicts or help refugees to integrate: Specialists in social work or social pedagogy help people to cope with their everyday life. The study of social work is interdisciplinary: It includes pedagogical, sociological and psychological aspects as well as political science, business administration, medicine and law. It is offered by state, church and private colleges as well as some universities. Some programmes are special: for example, social work with an intercultural focus or in health care. The career prospects after graduation are good. "As a rule, most of them find a job without any problems," says Friso Ross, professor at the Kempten University of Applied Sciences and chairman of the Fachbereichstag Soziale Arbeit e. V. (Association of Social Work Faculties).
This is how the course runs
The first semesters are about getting to know the range of the subject and possible fields of activity. Social work methods are also taught theoretically and practically. By means of role-playing, students practice settling family disputes. They also deal with law, sociology and psychology. In the higher semesters, for example: What does the youth welfare office do? How do you work with immigrants or people with disabilities? Experts often report from their everyday work in the seminars. Work placements and practical projects are also part of the degree course. In order to obtain state recognition as a social worker, students must provide evidence of a guided internship of at least 100 days of practical experience in social institutions, associations or public authorities. In addition, they need certain competencies, for example, expertise in law and in the theories and methods of social work. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree, most people start to work. "There are very few job postings that require a master's degree," says Friso Ross of Faculty Day.
Typical questions raised within the subject
- How can families and young people be supported in their everyday lives?
- What are the tasks of street workers?
- What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
- How do you improve opportunities of immigrants in the labour market?
- What are the needs of older people and what support do they need?
- How do you get people to accept offers of help?
The subject suits you,...
... you are empathetic and appreciative, because both are important in the job. You often meet people who are considered by society to have failed, and you work with them to find ways of coping with everyday life largely on your own. It is important to maintain a balance between human closeness and professional distance. You must be able to deal with setbacks. You should be able to listen and need assertiveness. Anyone who does not have any training, for example as an educator or a social care worker should first do a voluntary service or an internship before you start you degree to check whether the profession suits you.
Is there a numerus clausus?
Some universities require a suitable internship. About half of the degree courses have restricted admission, and the entrance restriction is often between a two and three grade range.